Sandy Scott: Whispers and Successes

The last two years have been a whirlwind for noted sculptor and etcher Sandy Scott. In her studio, a renovated cherry mill in Ft. Collins, Colorado, Scott has created a phenomenal reservoir of work – thirty new bronze images, all of which were unveiled in June at the Gilcrease Rendezvous. In the midst of all this sculpting, she has received numerous accolades and published a book about her art.

For twenty years, the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa has paid tribute to representational American painters and sculptors. The list of honored artists reads like a Who’s Who of late 20th-Century American Art. The museum’s 1998 retrospective exhibition recognized Sandy Scott for her artistic achievement as an animal sculptor and speaks of her stature as one of the most accomplished women sculptors of our time.

At the heart of the impressive presentation were Scott’s interpretive images of birds, including early prized pieces such as Mallard Duet and Spoonie Coming In, as well as recent renderings of roosters, eagles, pelicans and the mythical raven. Scott’s artistic genius rests in her ability to blend observation and analysis simply and spontaneously. Nowhere is this more evident than in the genre of bird sculptures, an art form Scott has taken to new levels.

The distinctive surface texture, loosely worked, gives each bronze an inviting, impressionistic quality. For Scott, less is more, and she has discovered that artistically she “no longer has to shout … she can whisper and still be heard.”

A few favorite “whispers” from the recently released editions include Chum Run at Irish Creek and Above Eagle Island, Scott’s majestic interpretation of an eagle’s grace and agility. Less dramatic, but equally appealing, are two smaller pieces: Little Nipper, a charming portrayal of a foal’s spindly-legged awkwardness and Preening Cat, a regal pose reminiscent of Scott’s early feline etchings.

Robin Salmon, curator of Brookgreen Gardens, calls Scott one of the most distinguished animaliers of the twentieth century and compares her passion and spirit to that of the noted early 20th century’s sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington. In 1997, Scott’s Peace Fountain was acquired by the Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina, and with its installation, Ms. Scott takes her place among the greats of American sculptors. The 350 acre sculpture garden, founded by Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington in 1930, exhibits the world’s most comprehensive collection of American figurative sculpture and chronicles the history of sculpture as fine art in our country.

With a tinge of parental pride, the Gallery at Shoal Creek extends its congratulations to this favorite artist whose fine art career started right here in our Austin gallery. Ann Hagood Ledbetter, the former owner, remembers clearly her introduction to the exuberant young Sandy Scott over twenty years ago. Ms. Ledbetter was enchanted with the aspiring artist’s talent for capturing detail and texture and suggested Sandy translate her drawings into etchings. This encouragement rekindled Scott’s interest in the etching medium, and she soon returned to the gallery to exhibit her first portfolio of original etchings. Over the next eight years, Sandy introduced an additional portfolio each year including Texas Suite, a set of eight small etchings done especially for GSC.

Scott’s success as an etcher and her move to sculpture are recorded in a beautiful book, Spirit of the Wild Things, the Art of Sandy Scott, published in conjunction with the Gilcrease show. The book, a collaborative effort between the artist and Susan McGarry, writer, editor, and art historian, takes its title from one of Sandy’s monumental bronzes depicting geese lifting in flight.

At the heart of the book is a line from Scott’s journal … “sculpture is an experience rather than an object.” The phrase summarizes Scott’s art – the artistic inspiration, the sensory appeal and the viewer’s response. The full-color price list, the artist’s wilderness tales and McGarry’s essay, Where Wilderness and Civilization Meet, will encourage anyone who opens the book to “experience” both sculpture and nature more often.